Srimad Bhagavatam: A New Trend in Hinduism

Between the eighth to the sixth centuries BCE, the idea of theism was established in Hindu society. Theism recognizes that there is a supreme distinct god (Bhagavan) or goddess (Bhagavati), who generates the cosmos, maintains it, and finally destroys it, and who has the power to save beings through his grace.62

Around 200 BCE, Vishnu or Bhagvata worship became more prominent in India. The ancient god Narayana merged with the historical tribal gods Vishnu and Krishna, forming the most formidable Vishnu sect (Panth). The followers of this sect believed in non-violence and offered prayers to the idol (murti) of Lord Vishnu in different forms. They also offered various types of vegetarian food items to God; these were later distributed among the devotees.63 Srimad Bhagavatam heralds this era of devotion.

Srimad Bhagavatam is the grand tapestry of Puranic tales that are woven around the Lord. Srimad Bhagavatam is one of the authoritative Hindu criptures, and is regarded by some as the fifth Veda. The date of composition is probably between the eighth and the tenth century CE, but may be as early as the 6th century CE.

 

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Srimad Bhagvatam again heralds significant changes in Hindu theology. In response to the emerging new religions of Jainism and Buddhism, Srimad Bhagvatam presents a different facet- promoting generally a non-violent conduct by the people (although God may save the innocent by killing and destroying the wicked). God as an incarnation in the human form of Lord Krishna is presented in all His glory and magnificence, thus repudiating the non-theist contention of these two religions. God’s infinite power and grace are highlighted, and so are the worship of God and the mutis (images) as icons of the Lord. The mystic, formless, transcendental impression of the Divine in the Upanishad Era has been replaced by the robust, direct, easy-to-recognize human face and human incarnation! 

Srimad Bhagvatam is also named as the fifth Veda of the common man; as such the worship practices are rather simple and straight-forward. A new concept, that by just uttering the name of God, one may attain the moksha-salvation, has been forcefully introduced. This perception is ofcourse symbolic in nature, the idea being to pull the people toward God in whatever way possible. Gradually and with the grace of the Divine, one may become more and more pious and spiritual.

Although Lord Krishna has been presented in very simple and earthly manner, the real message of the Lord is much deeper and more symbolic. Literally, Krishna translates as “one who attracts”, thus the Lord has been acclaimed as the personification of Krishna Bhav-of love and goodwill.

Srimad Bhagvatam reminds all that a person has but a limited time in mortal life to fulfill the spiritual mission. One may never forget to follow and remember God.